Drug War Prisoner Given Solitary Confinement for Terror War Thought Crime 11/2/01

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The so-called war on terrorism reached the bowels of the US federal prison system last month, further victimizing a prisoner already victimized by the war on drugs. Lamont Garrison, who, along with his brother Lawrence, was falsely convicted of crack distribution in a notorious Washington, DC, case in 1998, has spent most of the last six weeks in "special housing" -- a federal Bureau of Prisons euphemism for solitary confinement -- at the Allenwood Federal Low Security Institution in Pennsylvania. His offense? Writing a letter to his imprisoned brother in which he quoted Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan's comments on the attacks and their genesis.

At least that is what his mother, Karen Garrison, reported to DRCNet this week. Federal officials at Allenwood would neither confirm nor deny that Garrison had been disciplined. "That is not public information," public information specialist Bill Smith told DRCNet. Expressing the BOP's famous solicitude for its charges, Smith added that he would have to get a signed consent form from Lamont Garrison before he could discuss the case.

And Lamont Garrison remains unavailable for comment.

According to Smith, administrative penalties are reserved for prisoners who "commit disciplinary infractions or endanger the orderly operation of the institution -- not for political writings."

But according to Mrs. Garrison, that is precisely why Lamont Garrison was sent to the hole. "Lamont had watched Farrakhan on TV and quoted what he said in a letter to his brother Lawrence," Mrs. Garrison said. "Then a hack named Hamilton took the letter and turned it over to an investigator at the prison, and they put him in the hole on September 17," she explained. "The guards told him: 'yeah, you said something about the war,'" Garrison told DRCNet.

According to Mrs. Garrison, Lamont was in the hole from September 17 through the end of October. "I hadn't heard from him for a long time, then when I got a letter from him in pencil, I knew he was in the hole. They only let them use pencils there."

Public information specialist Smith told DRCNet that Garrison was not now in special housing, but refused to say whether he had been or for how long. "That's not public information," said Smith.

Lamont and Lawrence Garrison were students at prestigious Howard University and had never been in trouble with the law when they were arrested, charged and convicted of crack cocaine distribution in 1998. In the nationally prominent case, Lawrence Garrison, currently at a federal prison camp in Elkton, Ohio, received a 15 1/2 year sentence, while Lamont Garrison got 19 1/2 years.

"We had court appointed lawyers, and they didn't even believe my sons," said Mrs. Garrison, who told DRCNet that 27-year-old twins are pursuing a new round of appeals based on ineffective counsel. "These were good boys, they never even stayed out all night, let alone had anything to do with drugs," she said. "They were good citizens of the community."

Now, Lamont Garrison has been punished for expressing the wrong political beliefs. "Not only has he been in the hole for six weeks, he has now lost his prison job," Mrs. Garrison told DRCNet. "Lamont is pretty tense right now."

So, it seems, are administrators and line officers in the federal Bureau of Prisons.

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Issue #209, 11/2/01 Editorial: Lessons Not Learned | Medical Marijuana Armageddon: Feds Declare War on California Buyers Clubs | Drug War Prisoner Given Solitary Confinement for Terror War Thought Crime | British Police Ask for Ecstasy Penalties to be Reduced as Drug War Collapse Continues | Colombia: Ambassador Patterson and Senator Graham Play the Terrorism Card | Border Smuggling Resumes After Temporary Post-September 11th Lull | New Jersey Amnesty International Chapter Puts US Drug Policy on International Human Rights Group's Agenda | Arkansas Drug Reformers on the Move -- Poll Shows Support for Medical Marijuana | Chapare, Bolivia: Increased Militarization Heightens Tensions in Coca-Growing Region | Stop the Presses: Casual Drug Users Have, Keep Jobs, Study Finds | Alerts: HEA Drug Provision, Drug Czar Nomination, DEA Hemp Ban, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | The Reformer's Calendar

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